Sudan. According to COUNTRYAAH, Khartoum is the capital of Sudan which is located in Northern Africa. President Omar al-Bashir was re-elected in April for another five years. That the president received just over 95% of the vote was attributed to the opposition boycotting the election, the first since 2011 when South Sudan became independent.
The turnout was very low. Officially it was stated to be 46.4%. This, although the three-day election was extended by one day. It was seen as an expression of deep voter dissatisfaction. Observers from the Arab League, the African Union and the IGAD regional cooperation group approved the election, which was criticized by the EU and the so-called troika – Norway, the UK and the US.
Even in the parliamentary elections, which were held at the same time, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) won. The party received 323 of the 426 seats. The only opposition party to stand, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), got 25 seats while independent candidates took 19 seats. Before and after the election, there were reports of how leading opposition politicians were arrested or harassed. The 72-year-old president appointed a new government in June, appointing new defense and foreign ministers.
In June, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the African Union (AU) and the UN Joint Force UNAMID in Darfur. This despite the fact that Sudan 2014 declared that it wanted to discontinue the force.
The security situation in the Darfur region remained worrying. In November, the United Nations reported that at least 100,000 people have fled after escalated fighting, including between rival Arab clans, government forces and other groups. However, the number was lower than in 2014. The UN and other aid organizations criticized that they were denied free access.
In April, the government reported major successes in an offensive against the rebel force JEM (the Justice and Equality Movement) in Darfur. The human rights group Human Rights Watch blamed the government militia, Rapid Support Forces (RSF), for murders, rapes, poisoning of wells and looting. The report was based on testimony from refugees and satellite images.
Struggles also continued in the provinces of the Blue Nile and South Kurdufan between the government side and the rebel movement SPLM-North (Sudanese people’s liberation movement). The government was accused of using cluster bombs in South Kurdufan. Sudan has not signed the international agreement banning these weapons.
No breakthroughs were achieved in the national dialogue launched by the president in 2014. In January, 18 opposition groups jumped off the process. Both the government and rebel groups promised temporary ceasefire, but mistrust persisted despite attempts by, among others, the AU mediator Thabo Mbeki.
President al-Bashir continued to defy the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, which issued an international arrest warrant for suspected war crimes and other crimes in Darfur. He visited South Africa in June but had to leave the country in a hurry after a South African court announced that he should be arrested. South Africa stated that the meeting was organized by the AU and that al-Bashir had immunity. However, the ICC requested an explanation, and in South Africa debated whether the country should leave the ICC. During the year, al-Bashir visited China and India, among others, who are not members of the ICC.
Sudan also contributed hundreds of soldiers to the Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen.
Full control over the border to the east
Sudan has regained full control of the lands along the border with Ethiopia that Ethiopian farmers have seized, Foreign Minister Omar Qamareddine announced. The conflict over fertile soil in the Al-Fashqa region led to increased tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia in November and December 2020. In December, the government in Khartoum accused Ethiopian “forces and militias” of attacking Sudanese soldiers along the border, killing four and injuring about 20. The Ethiopian government downplayed the events and after talks between the two governments, the border has been marked and signs put up, the Sudanese minister announces.
Unamide is formally discontinued
The United Nations and the African Union (AU) formally end their joint peacekeeping mission in Darfur (Unamid). All soldiers and other personnel must have left Sudan by June 2021. Unamid has been in Darfur for 13 years. Some 300,000 people have been killed and around 2.5 million homeless during the Darfur conflict that erupted in 2003 (see Conflicts; Sudan). Responsibility for security in Darfur is now being taken over by Sudan’s transitional government. Violence still erupts occasionally in the area but now on a smaller scale. Popular protests are being held in Darfur against the decision to end Unamid. Protesters fear that violence in the region will increase when Unamid is gone.
Unamid in Darfur will be taken home
The UN Security Council decides that the UN and AU mission in Darfur (Unamid) will end when its mandate expires on 31 December 2020. Responsibility for maintaining peace and security in Darfur will then rest with the country’s transitional government. Personnel and equipment will be phased in between 1 January and 30 June 2021. The request to end Unamid comes from the transitional government of Sudan and is supported by the African members of the Security Council, as well as China and Russia. The Western Council members want to see a slower phase-out to ensure the protection of Darfur’s civilian population. Amnesty International advocates an extension of Unamid’s mandate. Unamid has been in Darfur since 2007 and consisted of 16,000 peacekeepers.
Anxious at the border with Ethiopia
Sudanese media report that four soldiers have been killed and 27 injured in an attack by Ethiopian military and militia inside Sudanese territory on the border with Ethiopia. The army does not confirm the information, but the government sends reinforcements to the al-Fashaqa region a few days later. Transitional Council leader General al-Burhan visits the area, where sporadic violence sometimes erupts due to Ethiopian farmers cultivating land claimed by Sudan. Prime Minister Hamdok travels to Addis Ababa and talks with his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed, who downplays the incident.
Sudan is formally removed from the US terror list
The United States formally removes Sudan from its list of states that sponsor terrorism. Prime Minister Hamdok describes the event as the beginning of a “new era”. The deletion gives Sudan opportunities to build new relations with the outside world and borrow money from international bodies (see October 2020).
Wear within the transition handlebar
The Transitional Government reacts strongly when the leader of the sovereign Transitional Council, al-Burhan, establishes a completely new body with great powers via decree. According to the decree, the new body, the Council of Transition Partners (CTP), will be responsible for leading the country during the three-year transition period, mediating between the various parts of the board, and for this the body will have all the necessary powers. Prime Minister Hamdok rejects the decree, saying that al-Burhan has violated the agreement that forms the basis of the transitional government (see August 2019). According to the government, the new council can only have an advisory and mediating function in the event of disagreements between the transitional council and the government.